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Puppies and prodegies

| Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let’s talk about Air Bud.

Most of us are familiar with the ‘90s film that documents the unexpectedly impressive athletic abilities of America’s most loveable Golden-Labrador mix and the charming human-animal friendship that comes along the way.

Seems harmless, right?

Not quite. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time this semester considering Air Bud through an analytical lens. When you take a step back, disregarding nostalgia for Buddy and his basketball sneakers, the entire concept of Air Bud becomes ridiculous.

First, let’s just think about the premise of the movie itself. The Yahoo! Movies plot summary reads as follows: “Josh meets a Golden Retriever and finds out that he can play basketball.” Even though the plot is based on the athletic abilities of a real-life rescue dog, I’m sure someone must have addressed the fact that it was slightly unrealistic.

But not only did this movie get produced, it became a franchise. As of this year, there are 14 movies in the franchise. Fourteen. Buddy showcased his talents in a variety of sports and produced equally gifted offspring, stars of the ever-popular spin-off series “Air Buddies.” In addition to being canine athletic prodigies, these puppies also conveniently have the ability to talk. What’s even more impressive is that these English-speaking puppies go on adventures, ranging from visiting Alaska to traveling to outer space, even managing to develop supernatural abilities in the 2013 smash-hit “Super Buddies.”

The topic of Air Bud has become way too important to me recently, much to the annoyance of anyone who interacts with me. It’s not that I’m angry that a movie about a Golden Retriever who loves pudding and sports made somewhere around $23 million. I’m not even jealous that a four-legged creature is better at sports than I’ll ever be.

More than anything, I have a newfound appreciation for the film. In a modern society characterized by rationality, it’s refreshing to see the success of a film series based on an absurdly unfeasible portrait of canine athleticism. I’d even go so far as to say the producers of “Air Bud” are cinematic revolutionaries. They ingeniously used the loveable charm of Buddy the basketball-playing dog to distract an entire generation of American audiences from the fact that they were watching a movie about a basketball-playing dog.

I recently discovered that a new “Air Buddies” film is being released in 2015. When asked if I have the desire see what the next outrageous adventure of the canine sports sensations will be, the answer is ‘definitely.’ I’m committed to doing my part in making sure the film legacy of Buddy lives on in all of its blatantly unrealistic glory.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

About Keri O'Mara

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  • Someone who cares

    Ms. O’Mara,

    While you raise some good points about the expectations us as humans should have about the athletic ability of domesticated animals, I think your article falls obtusely short of giving credit where credit is due within the animal kingdom. I found your article disrespectful in calling Air Bud “unrealistic,” as if it is so hard to believe that an animal could possess athletic talent. If I may be so bold, I’d like to ask you to redirect your sapien-centric mind towards this little nugget of gold, shown to us by Capt. Rod Thomas:


    But, according to your article, you claim that “the entire concept of Air Bud becomes ridiculous.” My response to that question is, if a squirrel can showcase this kind of athletic talent in a lowly boat show in central carolina, what’s so ridiculous about a dog that can play basketball?

    Another rash claim in your article is the infeasibility of a dog’s inability to talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y3VX8VU9kI Here’s a bird that can talk. Why would an animal whose has a much larger cerebral cortex (responsible for communication) have no possibility of being able to speak (1). I suggest you do some more research before you go dousing the brain capacity of Man’s Best Friend.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate your support of the film series, but I sense that your undying love and devotion to the franchise may be a bit tongue and cheek. Air Bud is a series of movies about hope- hope for dogs and animals everywhere, it depicts a tale of upward mobility. The idea that a dog can become more than any human master expects or asks of it is an ideal that all humans should cherish and hold dear. Let’s take a look at a chapter of this “fictional” series that turns out to be no fiction at all- animals in space. In reality, animals have been going into space for over 65 years, and the first monkey was sent into space as long ago as 1949. (2)

    I hope these comments have been informative to you, and I hope that next time you’re able to do some of this research yourself before you post such an ignorant article. My four cats (all of whom can read) were indignant and insulted upon reading this article. Please think long and hard next time you put something into print which may reflect poorly on you, your university, your species, and the animal kingdom.

    – Someone who cares

    (1) http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/10-brain-myths5.htm
    (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animals_in_space